The capacity on London – India flights just does not seem to be ever enough. Earlier, British Airways has been at the positive receiving end since Jet Airways first withdrew flights to the UK, and then perished quickly after that. Given that the entire episode happened very close to the ICC Cricket World Cup, which was being held in the UK this year, British Airways managed to launch a third flight to Mumbai at short notice in June 2019. Virgin Atlantic started a daily flight to Mumbai from London Heathrow as soon as this third BA flight shut down.
While 56 flights a week are permitted between London Heathrow and Delhi/Mumbai for British Carriers, British Airways third daily flight launching on March 29, 2020, to Mumbai would have made sure 49/56 frequencies would have been used up. With only one daily flight left, Virgin Atlantic has today thrown their hat in the ring, launching a second flight between Delhi and London Heathrow effective March 29, 2020 (start of the summer schedule). The new flight will be operated by a Boeing 787-9.
The new flight will depart London Heathrow in the morning, complementing the airline’s current evening departure. Together with Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic will offer connections between Delhi and New York JFK, Boston, Detroit and Atlanta via London Heathrow.
But not just that, Virgin Atlantic will also re-time its Mumbai flight to an evening departure from London Heathrow, offering a morning arrival into Mumbai henceforth. The current timings of the flight are as below:
VS354 LHR1030 – 0055(+1) BOM 789 D
VS355 BOM0300 – 0715LHR 789 D
The details of the new flight are not available at the moment, neither is the retiming reflecting on the website of Virgin Atlantic so far. But, this reflects a new marketplace, where carriers who did not want to be operating in India are expanding their Indian operations to not lose out on this lucrative market. Virgin Atlantic will operate this flight in association with Delta, which incidentally, will launch another direct flight to Mumbai directly in December 2019.
From the Indian side, only Air India is operating 3 daily flights to London Heathrow from Mumbai/Delhi and there is a lot of room for Vistara to grow as they get their 787-9 aircraft next year.
What do you make of Virgin Atlantic’s move to launch more flights to Delhi next month?